In 1989, Silvano de Gennaro, a computer scientist at the Cern laboratory in Switzerland, decided to start a music festival that still runs to this day. He called it the Cern Hardronic Festival and invited the Cern community to get up on stage and showcase their talents. Little did he know that his festival would lead to the creation of a girl group whose picture would be the first personal photograph to be uploaded to the web.
Michele de Gennaro, who is now married to Silvano, remembers the first festival clearly. She was working as a bilingual secretary when a friend approached her about the show. Her friend planned to get Silvano to write a song to a particular physicist who she had her eye on, and wanted Michele to join her on stage.
So Silvano wrote a song called Collider, about a lonely woman whose partner works long shifts at – you guessed it – the collider. Watch it here.
Unfortunately, the desired physicist never actually saw the performance, Michele says, since he was on shift. “It was a shame but we had a great time and we got a lot of attention from elsewhere,” she says. Thus was born Les Horribles Cernettes (a play on Cern’s Large Hadron Collider), a revolving group of female singers who donned big hair, vintage dresses, and sang songs about physics.